The man had a withered hand. The religious high-muckety-mucks had withered hearts. They were all messed-up (Mark 3:1-6).
It was the Sabbath day and Jesus had a divine appointment at the synagogue.
I imagine that Jesus made eye-contact with the crippled man and beckoned him to come to the front of the room. “Who me?,” the man mouthed. Jesus said, “Stand before us” (Mark 3:3, CSB). Jesus wanted everyone to see.
Then, the Master turned His attention to His naysayers.
He knew what was about to happen. At the conclusion of Mark’s second chapter, Jesus had a brief confrontation with these religious hypocrites. Jesus reminded them that the Sabbath was a day of rest, God’s gift to His creation. Their rulebook was filled with the Sabbath’s dos and don’ts.
This demonstration of His great grace was for them! Jesus longed for them to see that He was “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Though they hated Him, He loved them enough to die on their cross. “They were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath” (Mark 3:2, CSB).
Jesus’ hard stare turned to the hyper-religious elitists. “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4, CSB). “Who among you, if he had a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t take hold of it and lift it out? A person is worth far more than a sheep; so it is lawful to do what is good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12, CSB).
Mark used two words to describe the heart of the Master: anger and grief. “After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts” (Mark 3:5, CSB). He hated the sin, but He loved the sinner.
Jesus’ compassionate gaze returned to the man standing before the gathered crowd. Everyone knew that the man couldn’t move his fingers. The muscles had atrophied. Shriveled. Withered.
Jesus spoke softly but with authority. “Stretch it out.”
What? How? No way!
When I read this passage, I think about my wife’s uncle Kent. Decades ago, before OSHA’s safety regulations were enacted, Kent was hurt in an industrial accident. His injured arm hung limp at his side. Useless. Withered. Uncle Kent couldn’t “stretch it out.”
Jesus makes the impossible ... possible.
Like never before, “He stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:5, CSB). Slowly. Deliberately. Without a hint of pain. All five fingers were fully extended ... then he exercised them as he opened and closed his fist before the crowd’s bewildered eyes... before his own astonished eyes!
Jesus came to restore the broken.
“They, however, were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11, CSB). “Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him” (Mark 1:6, CSB).
We’re all messed up. We’re all broken and withered.
Jesus wants to make our impossible... possible.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor